Illegal dumping on the corner of 43rd and Rosslyn has once again focused resident attention on this area where so many say there is much potential for improvement.
For several weeks, dumpers have been unloading their unwanted items, and trash, outside of 1804 West 43rd and 1806 West 43rd. The building owner for both properties is Fouad Mekdessi who leases to both MANNA and Family Dollar. Mekdessi told The Leader that he is working on permitting for a tenant for the vacant space next to Family Dollar and that the tenant would clean up the trash.
Evangelina Vigil with the city’s Department of Neighborhoods said that the department conducted an inspection of the illegal dumping site on Tuesday, March 14 and then spoke to the property owner, notifying him of code violations on the property and giving him clear instructions that he had 24 hours to remove the debris. If that deadline is not met, the department will start issuing citations.
“The property owner is responsible for cleaning up illegal dumping on their property,” said Vigil, who notes that it’s the duty of the Department of Neighborhoods to investigate cases of illegal dumping on private property. If property owners do not remove dumped items, the city’s Solid Waste department will remove it.
Two years ago, there was another spate of illegal dumping in front of MANNA which operates an assistance program, food pantry, vision station, clothing vouchers and resale store for residents in The Leader area. Patricia Dornak with MANNA said they have installed cameras on MANNA’s side of the building to curb such activity.
Multiple people report on the Oak Forest Homeowner’s association page that they’ve called 311 with regard to the new trash.
“Family Dollar and MANNA have been the target of illegal dumping for years,” wrote one resident. “MANNA put up cameras and posted signs and that has helped keep their store front cleaner. Cameras and signs in English and Spanish need to be posted on [the other] corner of the building as well. Also folks need to be vigilant in watching for the folks who are dumping here. It truly degrades the entire community when this occurs.”
“Dirtbags who dump there should be fined, not MANNA who is a wonderful charitable organization that really supports this community,” wrote another.
Others noted that the vacant spaces at the corner are part of the problem.
“That whole property needs to be scraped and rebuilt,” wrote one. “It’s a total eye sore for that side of Oak Forest and Candlelight.”
“Such a great spot for a new commercial building for small businesses,” said another poster. “Property values would increase if it wasn’t such a disaster, especially with the front street building being vacant for the last 8+ years.”
In addition to Mekdessi’s property, there is another vacant property, 4301 Rosslyn Road, which is owned according to HCAD by Susana Z. Zarazua. Since 2004 there have been four real estate agents who have posted sig
nage at the property. A number of people have told The Leader off the record that they have expressed interest in either leasing or buying the building but that they found the owner’s price for doing either a deal breaker.
One potential bright spot is the apartment complex at 4300 Rosslyn across the street. In December 2015, Light Hill Partners who manage multiple apartments in The Leader area, including nearby The Grove at 43rd, bought the complex. Scott Leichtenberg said that the plan is to completely renovate the complex and that it will be “nice, if not nicer” than The Grove.
Work at the apartments now seems to have stalled and Leichtenberg did not respond to The Leader’s recent request for comment.
Evangelina Vigil said that once readers see a violation at a private property, the first step is to contact 311 quickly and be sure to let 311 know if the property owner is a repeat offender. Once the problem is reported to 311, also call your City Council Member’s office to let staff know of the repeat offender.
Vigil cautions against attempting to speak to the property owner.
“Let the Department of Neighborhoods handle the matter,” she said. “The Department of Neighborhoods will conduct an inspection and notify the property owner of any violations. The property owner will be given 15 days to correct the violation(s). If the violation(s) have not been corrected by the deadline, a citation will be issued to the property owner. If the property owner is a repeat offender, steeper fines may apply.”
Vigil says that educating property owners at the time of the initial inspection is key to making sure the property owner complies with the City of Houston Code of Ordinances.